"OK, everybody, gear up" Rick says, as he puts the last gun on the table. Michonne shakes her head, and pulls out her hand.
"I want my own weapon."
"You mean your samurai sword?" Vicky says, with a teasing smile. Michonne glances at her.
"Not exactly. It's a katana."
"I knew that" Vicky quickly says, while tries to stand on her hands with her feet against the wall. "I was just testing you."
"Where is it?"
Vicky's red hair falls to the ground as she stands upside down, balancing on her arms. "Dunno. Didn't touch it."
"You sure about that?" Rick says, inspecting a rifle. Vicky smiles again, lifting her eyebrows playfully.
"I'm serious, Vicky, we don' have time for this" Rick says, putting down the weapon.
"I'll give it back till you guys let me come with you."
Rick puts a hand over his eyes. "I already told you, it's better to stay here. You can protect everybody here."
"Carl's a better shot than me" Vicky says back, and she puts her feet back on the floor, and sits down on the floor, her back facing the group.
"Seriously, don' go fool around now!" I say loudly. It's getting dark, and I really want to leave. I want to do something, I want to get Glenn and Maggie back.
"Then tell me why I can't go!"
Suddenly, Beth steps forward, and kneels down next to the red haired girl. "Please, Vick, just…give it back to them."
"Why? It's not like they haven't got enough weapons already. Maybe I want to play with it, maybe I'd like to slice some skulls…"
Michonne steps forward, widened eyes, her finger pointing at Vicky. "I dare you, if you ever-"
"She's not gonna" Daryl interrupts her. "I'm not letting her."
"The same way you don't let me come with you?" Vicky replies. Beth softly touches the girl's shoulder, but she shrugs it off.
"Please, Vicky. We have to get them back. It's my sister! It's Glenn!"
"C'mon, Beth. They're not getting them back without me!"
"You'll be surprised…" Michonne mumbles angrily.
"Please?" Beth begs her one more time. It's silent for a moment. Everyone's looking at the red head. Hershel stands next to Rick, leaning on his crutches. I'm sits on the steps, with Oscar next to me. Michonne still stands outside the cellblock, with narrowed eyes. Carl stands next to the gate, with the keys in his one hand and his pistol in the other. Carol sits on the metal table, with Axel standing next to her. We're all waiting for the answer.
Vicky shrugs, and sighs. She lets herself fall on her back. "Whatever. I put it in a toilet. I guess it's still there."
"You got to be kidding me!" Michonne runs towards the direction of the bathrooms. Carl grins from under his hat, avoiding the disregarding look of his father. I shake my head again. Still is crazy. I stand up, to grab some more bullets, and I somehow find the eyes of Carol. She has a questioning look, and she points with her chin at the stairs. I nod, and put the stuff down. She stands up, and walks towards the stairs.
At the top, we stand still. I cross my arms.
Carol looks at the group, and back at me. "You know what's up. Why are you being so…stupid?"
"Beg yah pardon?"
"Vicky is our best fighter, and she already knows where the town is. You don't need that woman, we don't know her. Why don't you let her come with you?"
"'Cause she's one crazy bi-I mean, person. She's radical, who knows what she can get us into."
"You mean you don't trust her?" Carol shakes her head, and crosses her arms. "That's ridiculous. You let Oscar, and inmate of a state prison, go with you, but you don't let a teenage girl?"
"Well, yah forget one thing; this ain't just a teenager. She's crazy, psychotic."
"She's earned our trust, like, a billion times! It doesn't make sense!"
I then walk down the stairs again, and while I do, I hear Michonne shouting from the bathroom.
"Fuck! I fucking kill that little brat!"
"Did she just say brat?" Vicky says, entertaining herself by balancing a knife on her feet while lying on the ground. "That's like the most rid-donkadonk word I've ever heard."
All I hear is a nervous breath after Merle closes the door. Is he gone? Who's in here with me right now?
"Hello? I somebody there?"
The sack over my head keeps me in darkness, and the blindness scares me. I try to move my arms, but the tape's too tight.
I clear my throat. "Uh… Hello? Is somebody there?"
Nothing. Only the nervous breathing. I try to move my head, hoping the sack will fall of my head. Of course it doesn't, Glenn. You're an idiot.
"Uh, hi" a voice suddenly says. It's a boy's voice, it sounds young. A teenager. A scared teenager.
"Is he gone?" I ask. The voice doesn't reply immediately, as if he's hesitating.
"He's out in the hall, but I'm the only one in the room" he then says. I try to focus on my hearing, to see if I can place him.
"What did he mean with 'a test'?" I ask. I hear a footstep, and contract my muscles, ready for a stump in the face if necessary. But there's no hit. I wait, and after ten seconds, it's still not there. Just another footstep.
"He wants me to torture you" the boy says, and I hear he's already feeling sick by the idea only. "He gave me a knife."
"He wants you to let me tell you where I'm stationed, right?" I ask, afraid of the answer I already know.
"Yes. I'm sorry. I don't want to."
"You don't have to" I say, and a plan begins to grow in my head. "Listen, we can get out of here, together. I have a group out there, I need to-"
"No, I'm sorry, I can't" the boy interrupts me. "I have a family here. My mom, my little brother…I can't leave them."
I let out a deep breath, and think. "What's your name?"
"Daniel, but my friends call me Dan."
"Daniel. Nice to meet you, Dan" I say, trying to be nice. "My name's Glenn. I'm from Michigan. You?"
"Phoenix, to be exactly. We were on holiday here" Dan answers. I can hear he's still nervous, but he's getting looser.
"That sucks" I say, and think of another question. "A lot of my family moved to Atlanta. When this all went down…I had to come a long way to find them."
"No" I sigh. "I was stuck in Macon first, in a pharmacy with another group. I left them, to headed for Atlanta, not knowing it was even worse there. I got in some huge trouble, and I was saved by a very brave man. He….he's dead now."
"I'm sorry to hear that" Dan says, and I hear he's really sorry for me. Maybe this can work. "Did you find your family?"
"No" I say, and I make the silence long and dramatic before I continue. "But I found a new one. A family. I got friends, we all take care of each other. You know, next door, sits a girl. Her name is Maggie. And she's the love of my life. I would do anything for her. I will always protect her, the best I can. I know she will do the same for me."
"Do your friends know you're here?"
"No, but I guess they'll be worried since we didn't come back before dark. Does your mom know you're here?"
I hear Dan chuckles, and it sounds closer than before. "Probably not. And I guess she'll be worried sick too, 'cause I don't think I'm coming home tonight. 'Cause if I don't do what the Governor tells me, I'm dead."
I blink with my eyes, confused. The Governor is their leader, apparently, a very radical one. This guy, Dan, he's willing to give his life for mine. And I thought I wasn't selfish.
Suddenly, I hear a door open, and I hear the most hated sound in the world; the moan of a walker. It comes closer and closer, and I'm freaking out.
"I'm done talkin'" Merle says, and the sack is pulled from my head. "Let's have som' fun!"
He holds the walker with a stick, and he grabs Dan by his shoulder.
"Yah better get yah ass outta here. Stay outside, I'll meet yah later."
Dan looks at me, confused, at the walker, scared, at Merle, angry.
"Just, go" I say to him, but he still hesitates.
"Yah heard him" Merle says. "Do what yer boyfriend tells yah."
Dan looks at me for one more time, before he leaves. After the door is closed, Merle releases the walker.
"Y'all better bring me a basket of muffins!" the red haired girl yells after us. The man called Rick shakes his head, while the man with the crossbow mumbles some bad words. The prisoner, Oscar, grins stupidly.
"I swear, I'll kill her when I get back" I say. Rick glances at me.
"Well, as much as I would love to let you, I can't" he says. I look at him, my eyebrows almost touching each other. My mother once told me I always do that when I'm confused, so I guess that's how it looks like.
"Why didn't you already?"
Rick looks back at the road, the sun almost behind the trees and the sky turning from a little orange to red. "Well, Vicky may be a little annoying-"
"You mean, like, a lot" I say.
"…but she's a good person" Rick continues, ignoring me. "She's a little crazy, but she's smart."
"But dangerous?" I look back at the crossbow man. He pretends to look out the window, spotting whatever that's out there.
"Yeah" Rick sighs. "But she proved us that she cares. She wants us to stay alive, at least, till she gets bored."
"What happens then?"
"She'll kill us" he says, as if it's not a big deal.
"Say what now?" Oscar suddenly asks. He hunches forward, looking between the front seats.
"Yah never heard of the new rule?" Crossbow says sarcastically. "Yah make her smile, yah can stay. Yah bore her, yeh're dead."
"What kind of sick mind-"
"Vicky" Crossbow and Rick say at the same time. Rick looks over his shoulder and grins. It's the first time I've seen that on him. A smile. There's a lot of sadness, hurt, anger in his face, but that one second, it's all gone.
"It looks good on you" I say, before I even think about it. Rick looks at me, his eyebrows lifted.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"That smile. It looks good on you."
Rick doesn't know how to react, and stares through the front window. "Uh, thanks."
There's a long silence. We all look at somewhere else. Crossbow leans forward.
"That's why we haven't killed her yet" he softly says. I turn around, confused, but he's focused on the window again.
"What do we got?" Carol looks at the table, where we stalled out all the food we've left.
"Not much" Beth sighs, looking at a can of beans.
"Don't worry, I asked them to bring some muffins" Vicky says, lying on the ground while writing what seems to be her diary.
"You know that you can't eat muffins after one year?" I say, leaning against the gate. "They'll be all green and rotten."
Vicky looks up. "Really? Shit. I should've asked them to bring stuff to make muffins!"
"Where do you think you could make muffins?" Beth says, with a hand on her hip. "It's not like we have an oven here."
Vicky puts down her pen, and leans with her chin on her hand. "You're probably right. That sucks. Maybe they'll only bring a basket."
"A basket? What for?" Carol asks, smiling.
"For the muffins, which we don't have." Vicky sighs, and picks up her pen again.
"Is that your diary?" I ask, stepping away from the gate. Vicky doesn't look up, but keeps on writing.
"Yeah, sorta. I would love to write it in my own cellblock, but since I seemed to be given the orders to stay here…Why am I even listening to them?"
"'Cause you care about us" Hershel suddenly says, from the top of the stairs. He went for a little nap an hour ago, and seemed to be woken up again.
"Yeah, I do. But you kinda bore me. Can we do something fun?"
"Why don't you help us cooking?" Carol offers, but Vicky immediately shakes her head.
"No way, I can't cook. Yeah, I'm The Muffin Queen, but I can't cook."
"Go on patrol with Carl" Hershel says, hopping down the steps.
"That's boring too. All the walkers do, is growling at the fence. And since Rick killed all the other ones, there's no fun left. And I also seem to be obeying the almighty Rick who tells me to stay here, so I can't go out there. And I can't-"
Vicky stops talking. Her face gets pale, and her eyes grow wide. She sits up, her back straight, the pen slipping through her fingers. I walk towards her, kneel down. I shake her shoulder, but she doesn't react.
"Vick, you OK?" I ask. She keeps staring at something, but when I look, there's no one there. Suddenly, Carol is beside her.
"Who is it, Vicky? Who's there?" she whispers. Carol holds one of Vicky's hands with both of hers, and looks calm, as if she knows what she's doing.
"What's going on?" Beth asks, a little panic in her voice. Hershel hops towards us, bending down to look at Vicky.
"Vicky? Can you hear me?" He waves with his hand in front of her eyes.
"There's nothing you can do, Hershel" Carol tells him. "We can't help her."
I stare at the pale face of the girl who was joking around about muffins just a minute ago.
"What's happening to her?"
"She's seeing someone, I think" Carol explains. I open my mouth to ask a question, but she waves it away. "It's something like a ghost."
"She's like, a ghost whisperer?" I ask, looking at the red haired girl.
"Sorta" Carol answers. Suddenly, something red drips on the grey floor. Blood. I look at Vicky, and see the corners of her mouth are full of it.
"O my God…" Beth gasps. Hershel tries to kneel down, and inspects Vicky's mouth.
"What's wrong?" I ask. Hershel pulls Vicky's lower lip down, and looks at it.
"She's biting her tongue" he says, surprised.
Carol shakes Vicky's shoulders. "Vicky, honey, listen. Come back, OK? We need you here, remember? You have to stay here, with us, and protect this prison. Can you hear me?"
Still no reaction. The blue eyes are looking straight forward, not even blinking. If it isn't for her chest to go slowly up and down, I would think she's dying.
Then, out of nowhere, she closes her eyes. She falls forward, and we catch her just before she hits the ground. We lift her up again, and see her eyes are shining bright again.
"Fuck! Who bit my tongue?!"
Diary thing I used to write in so much, someday.
I feel like I'm in the army, and Rick is the admiral, and Daryl his leading officer. Glenn is a Captain, and Hershel a Sergeant. The rest are all soldiers, even me. That's really weird, 'cause this isn't supposed to be an army, but a nice group of people that eat together, talk about leprechauns and bake muffins. According to Beth, it's not possible to bake them here, 'cause we don't have an oven. Or stuff to make it. Which really sucks, 'cause I feel like it's a new day for The Muffin Queen. She's like my alter ego. Or not. I dunno.
I'm ordered to stay in cellblock C, with the rest of the group. Michelle(who says her name is Michonne, but I'm pretty sure it's not), Rick, Daryl and Oscar left to save Glenn and Maggie from the evil town people. Somehow Daryl thought it was a good idea for me to stay here, and somehow Rick agreed with him, so now I'm stuck in here.
Apparently, I passed out. But I woke up, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. When I woke up, my tongue was really thick and slimy, and I tasted iron, which meant I was bleeding. I asked who bit my tongue, and Beth said it was me. So I just injured the strongest muscle in my body. Good job, Victoria.
I bet Daryl will be happy with this when he gets back, 'cause talking hurts. Not a little, but really bad. Hershel says a wound in your mouth heals quickly, so I hope it does, 'cause I have a lot to talk about. Like muffins. Seriously, muffins makes everyone happy. Why didn't I think of that before? Maybe I am really crazy.
"He's got patrols out" Michonne says, as we step out of the car. "Trust me, we're better off on foot."
"How far is it?" I ask, looking up the sky. "It will be dark soon, gotta hurry."
"About two miles" she answers, hanging the katana over her shoulders.
"Then we gotta hurry for real" Daryl mumbles, opening the back door of the car. We load ourselves with big guns, bullets, and even a smoke grenade.
"Where did you get that?" Michonne asks, holding one in her hand. Daryl picks it out of her hand.
"Where did yah get yer fancy sword?" he shoots back.
"Christmas" Michonne replies.
"Same here" Daryl replies.
"Can we start walking, please" I say, a little annoyed.
"Sure thing" Oscar mumbles, and I see he's nervous. He hasn't seen the outside world like it's today. He's seen a lot, but only inside the prison. He's got no idea what we're up to.
We start walking, into the forest. Michonne walks next to me, leading us towards where she says the town is. There's a part of me that questions her. Was it a good idea to leave Vicky behind? Could we trust this mysterious woman with a sword? We're all silent for a while, just walking. Nobody talks, we're all focused on the sun going down, and the less time we have left.
"So" Michonne suddenly says after a while "there's one thing I don't get."
"Is it 'bout the grenades again?" Daryl says, which gets him an annoyed look of Michonne.
"No, it's about the girl. Why did you guys leave her behind?"
"We told you, she's danger-"
"Yeah, I get that, I think there's more to this story." She turns around, and points at Daryl. "Especially with you."
"More walkin', less talkin'" Daryl grunts, and I suddenly have some questions myself. Why did he want to leave her behind? I turn around to face him, and he avoids me.
"I can do both at the same time, I bet you can too" Michonne says back. Daryl grunts annoyed.
"She killed a couple of guys in that town-place" he eventually says, and I'm stunned. I stop walking, and he almost bumps into me.
"She thought they had something to do with the alarm going off and all…." Daryl explains. "Turned out they didn't, so she killed them for nothin'. Didn't think it was smart to let her go in there. When she gets caught…."
"What do you think they'll do to us if they catch us snooping in their town?" Michonne glances.
"Are they really that bad?"
"Don't change the subject" I say with narrowed eyes.
"I'm sorry guys, but I'm afraid I'll have to" Oscar says, and we all turn towards him. He points at something between the trees, and we see a large group of walkers coming towards us.
"Oh, shit" I mumble.
"Hope you catch up with your fitness program, 'cause we got a long run to do" Daryl says to Michonne.
I'm biting my nails, and freaking out. I'm in an empty room, alone. There are sounds everywhere around me, but I can't see the source of any of them. I hear footsteps from a lot of people, moaning from undead, screams from random people. I try to cover my ears, but then the sounds keep repeating themselves in my head.
I didn't torture Glenn, that makes me a good person, right? But I'm supposed to be loyal to the Governor, and I betrayed him, which makes me a bad person, right? But if I know I'm wrong, does that make me a good person again? What if the Governor is wrong? Am I good person because I betrayed a bad person whom I thought was a good person?
I let myself slide down the wall, sitting on the ground. After Merle brought the walker inside, he came back to me, and put me in another room. I could hear every sound in that room, it echoed all around the secret building. I tried to talk to Glenn, but he couldn't hear me.
I'm all alone. The Governor will kill me. Right here, right now. What will they tell my mom? That I was on a secret mission, and that it went terribly wrong? That they're very sorry, and will do anything to help them, but eventually just kill them, 'cause they're related to a traitor?
Suddenly, the door opens again, and the Governor himself walks inside. I stand up, trying to look brave, while it feels like I'm facing death himself.
The Governor stands before me, his hands behind his back. He looks at me, stares me in the eyes, and I stare back.
"How are you feeling today, Daniel?"
"Fine, sir" I quickly answer, scared that every wrong word can kill me.
"Good." He looks at me from tip to toe. "How would you like to go into the ring tonight? Oh, wait, I already decided for you. And I bet it will be spectacular."
"The ring, sir?" I ask, and see Merle appear in the doorstep.
"Oh, pretty boy, yah know what that means" he grins, "yeh're goin' down.